Free to stitch, free to bitch
January 24, 2006 12:17 PM   Subscribe

As a followup to this post about Sew Fast, Sew Easy's cease and desist orders for using the phrase "Stitch and Bitch" to a variety of merchants, Yahoo groups, and knitting groups, it seems that a boycott movement is gaining momentum. They also have a CafePress store to support the cause. Additionally, I think SFSE may have underestimated the enormous growth in knitting blogs and how quickly they band together when given a cause.
posted by like_neon (22 comments total)
Sew Fast, Sew Easy is Sew Dumb for thinking that they could attempt to scoop up the phrase "Stitch and Bitch" without anybody, well, bitching about it. I don't sew or knit, but I am unreasonably delighted about the idea of a boycott.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:50 PM on January 24, 2006

It's interesting that there are number of trademark registrations for Stitch N Bitch with only some of them belonging to Sew Fast, Sew Easy. (For example, there is a line of knitting books called Stitch N Bitch.)

So in the war on trademarks, who gets the rights to the t-shirt?
posted by sexymofo at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2006

I also think it's cheekily fitting that the boycotters are using CafePress to raise funds, when SFSE used CafePress as a middleman last year to start the whole mess.
posted by like_neon at 1:04 PM on January 24, 2006

I'm thinking that SFSE had no idea what kind of a can of worms they were opening when they first pulled the cease and desist job on SNB Chicago.

It is indeed true that knitters on the net are a very tight-knit community. And, as they are constantly making things that they are proud of, part of the charm of the internet is that they can share images, ideas, etc. quickly and freely regardless of age, gender, location, whatnot. What that means is that there's an unusually high proportion of knitters who have blogs that are very regularly updated, participate on message boards, LJ, online lists and whatnot. Knitters are plugged in like you can't imagine.

Many knitters are also generally crafty and dip into sewing, crochet, papermaking, whatever... (crafty folks in general like to do various crafty things and aren't usually tied to only one craft) This means that many of the knitters who would be affected by the SFSE issue are also potential sewing bees. So, in essence, SFSE has smacked its customers across the face and is now shooting both their feet.

As many of the knitting yahoogroups the world over are called Stitch n' Bitch somethingoranother, Debbie Stoller has gone ahead and emailed a note to each and every one of these groups warning them of the impending doom of having such a list name if yahoo takes action. This certainly helped to spread the word among knitters - especially as Stoller, a knitting celebrity, was appearing on their little list to warn them of the "evil doings" of SFSE.

I also think it's cheekily fitting that the boycotters are using CafePress to raise funds, when SFSE used CafePress as a middleman last year to start the whole mess.

-it's brilliant, eh!-

If anyone is interested, I can dig up a copy of the email Stoller has been sending to the knitting world.
posted by Ms Snit at 1:30 PM on January 24, 2006

[defiantly resumes stitching and bitching]
posted by orange swan at 1:47 PM on January 24, 2006

I pity the fool who messes with knitters.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:57 PM on January 24, 2006

Yeah, we're a pretty close-knit group.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2006

I don't quite understand what SFSE's argument is because their forum uses "Stitch & Bitch Cafe" (note the registered trademark symbol's position) not "Stitch & Bitch". I don't think anyone would have a problem with giving them "Stitch & Bitch Cafe" but suing for "Stitch and Bitch"? That's rather asinine. I would heartily boycott them myself but as I am not much of a sewer, I doubt they'd miss my business.

Does anyone who's a lawyerly type know if trademarking "Stitch & Bitch" would include all variations like "Stitch 'N' Bitch"?

MsSnit - I agree, I'm totally amazed at how such an old tradition like knitting (well all forms of crafty hobbies) has melded so wonderfully with modern technology. The emergence of the internet and the proliferation of blogging has done wonderful things for the craft and its community.
posted by like_neon at 2:06 PM on January 24, 2006

Here's Debbie Stoller's email:

Dear Stitchers 'n Bitchers:

It has come to my attention that the moderators of a number of Stitch 'n
Bitch groups who host their mailing lists using Yahoo Groups' free mailing
list services have received notices from Yahoo advising them that they must
delete the wording STITCH N BITCH from their Yahoo!Group URL and any
references to STITCH N BITCH in the GROUP itself. This notice is a result of
a objection filed by Sew Fast Sew Easy Inc., a New York company, who is
claiming rights to this wording.

A number of you have been emailing me asking what to do. I have spoken about
this matter with my attorneys. First of all, please realize that you are not
being asked in this notice to change the name of your actual knitting group,
just the group designation you use on the Yahoo group and Yahoo URL, if you
want to keep using their free email services. Unfortunately, there is no
immediate recourse with Yahoo other than to make the change at this time.
They require this as soon as anybody makes any kind of claim--they do not
evaluate the merits of the claim. This being the case, one idea is to simply
change any references to STITCH n BITCH in your Yahoo Group name to some
alternative such as SNB (i.e, StitchnBitch-NYC would become SNB-NYC. Easier
to type, too!) Your group moderator can easily make this change via the
Yahoogroups control panel.

I know how much we value these lists as a way to communicate with our
groups, and I think we should all try to avoid the possible loss of our
group lists if Yahoo proceeds with a shut down. Also, I'd like you to remind
you that the group moderator can export the members list at any time (just
go to "members" then "export"), and save it somewhere special.

Finally, if you decide to change your Yahoo Groups name or move your list,
please be sure to have some one from your group let Brenda know so she can
change it on her site.


Debbie Stoller
posted by luneray at 2:07 PM on January 24, 2006

Here's that letter from Debbie Stoller regarding the Yahoo Groups shutdown. The group I'm a part of was closed, but then reformed under a new name without any bitch or any stitch in the title or description.

If you want more background, IP attorney and knit designer, The Girl from Auntie has been following it pretty closely.
posted by missmerrymack at 2:13 PM on January 24, 2006

Whoops, sorry for the cross post.
posted by missmerrymack at 2:13 PM on January 24, 2006

My mother belonged to a rural stitch-n-bitch group at least thirty years ago. I believe she must have been one of the bitchers, 'cause as far as I know, she shuns stitching.

I hope the boycott exterminates Sew Easy. They deserve it.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:27 PM on January 24, 2006

Knitfight! That sounds alot dirtier than it really is though, damn!
posted by fenriq at 3:29 PM on January 24, 2006

I dunno fenriq, have you seen size 0000 needles? Those suckers can and do maim unsuspecting victims.
posted by like_neon at 3:35 PM on January 24, 2006

posted by arcticwoman at 4:52 PM on January 24, 2006

Why the hell are they using CafePress? Why isn't CafePress a target of the boycott? Is it just me? Hasn't CafePress behaved awfully during this thing too?
posted by mediareport at 6:26 PM on January 24, 2006

From what I can understand, CafePress was just a middleman. SFSE sent a letter to CafePress who sent a letter to customers of CafePress who were using the "Stitch & Bitch" phrase on products. They're sort of in the same boat as YahooGroups. Yahoo is probably neutral about the phrase, but just to be safe, they won't allow groups to use that phrase anymore (thus now a lot of groups use SnB - cityname to bypass this new restriction)
posted by like_neon at 8:00 AM on January 25, 2006

but just to be safe

Exactly. It's bullshit to cave on something so patently ridiculous, and CafePress/YahooGroups should be ashamed of taking the easy way out instead of doing the right thing. Why the SFSE-boycotters are letting CafePress off the hook is beyond me.
posted by mediareport at 4:01 PM on January 25, 2006

The SFSE nutjobs have now posted a crazy letter on their website [via] basically attacking Debbie Stoller.
posted by missmerrymack at 7:30 PM on January 28, 2006

Okey-dokey. I'm riled: I know the phrase "Stitch-n-Bitch" has been used non-commercially by women's groups since the dawn of time. It pisses me off that some jackass in a company thinks he can hijack popular culture for his own exclusive commercial use.

How do we hang these greedy assholes out to dry? I want to see "Boycott Sew-Easy" as an Internet meme, just as surely as "PriceRite Photo." I want me some lynchin'!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 PM on January 28, 2006

The boycott's organizers have a site and are strategizing about the boycott in their forum.

Also, The LA Times has an article about the stitch 'n bitch controversy.
posted by missmerrymack at 9:13 AM on February 7, 2006

I just read that article today

"Here I am minding my own business, and then it becomes obvious to me that I have to be vigilant about what is mine and belongs to me,"

What should have become obvious to her is that she lives in a vacuum and is just pissed off she couldn't come up with an original idea. I love that she came off as a delusional bi-otch.
posted by like_neon at 10:15 AM on February 8, 2006

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